First cycle
degree courses
Second cycle
degree courses
Single cycle
degree courses
School of Science
Course unit
SCN1032610, A.A. 2019/20

Information concerning the students who enrolled in A.Y. 2018/19

Information on the course unit
Degree course Second cycle degree in
SC1173, Degree course structure A.Y. 2010/11, A.Y. 2019/20
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Number of ECTS credits allocated 6.0
Type of assessment Mark
Course unit English denomination HIGH ENERGY ASTROPHYSICS
Website of the academic structure
Department of reference Department of Physics and Astronomy
Mandatory attendance
Language of instruction Italian
Single Course unit The Course unit can be attended under the option Single Course unit attendance
Optional Course unit The Course unit can be chosen as Optional Course unit


ECTS: details
Type Scientific-Disciplinary Sector Credits allocated
Core courses FIS/05 Astronomy and Astrophysics 6.0

Course unit organization
Period First semester
Year 2nd Year
Teaching method frontal

Type of hours Credits Teaching
Hours of
Individual study
Lecture 6.0 48 102.0 No turn

Start of activities 30/09/2019
End of activities 18/01/2020
Show course schedule 2019/20 Reg.2010 course timetable

Examination board
Board From To Members of the board
7 Commissione Astrofisica delle Alte Energie 19-20 01/10/2019 30/11/2020 FRANCESCHINI ALBERTO (Presidente)
RODIGHIERO GIULIA (Membro Effettivo)
6 Commissione Astrofisica delle Alte Energie 17-18 01/10/2018 30/11/2019 FRANCESCHINI ALBERTO (Presidente)
RODIGHIERO GIULIA (Membro Effettivo)

Prerequisites: The mandatory courses of 1st year of the Master Degree in Astronomy.
Target skills and knowledge: Extended knowledge of theoretical fundamentals and observational framework of the high energy astrophysics.
Examination methods: Oral discussion on the topics discussed during lectures.
Assessment criteria: Proven knowledge of the topics discussed during lectures and, particularly, ability to discuss the connections of the various parts in proper and exhaustive way.
Course unit contents: 1) Fundamentals of classical electrodynamics: Basic formulae of electromagnetism in the classical limit. Electromagnetic waves. Relationship of electric charges and radiation fields (radiations from moving charges, Lienard-Wiekert potentials, fundamental equation, Larmor, dipole emission, multi-polar contributions, radiation spectrum).
2) Brehmsstralung radiation: Cassical limit, electric dipole contribution. Gaunt factor. Thermal Bremsstrahlung. Plasma cooling by free-free emission. Radiative transfer and Bremsstrahlung self-absorption. Relativistic and non-thermal Bremsstrahlung. Applications of thermal free-free emissions by astrophysical plasmas.
3) Gas dynamics and plasma effects: Fundamentals of hydrodynamics. General equations and conservation laws. Adiabatic and isothermal stationary flows. Sound waves. Particle collisions in plasmas. Momentum transfer among particles: viscosity. Energy transfer and heat conduction.Shock waves. Effects of magnetic field.
4) Hot plasmas in galaxies and clusters of galaxies: Fundamental physical parameters. Thermalization timescales. Heat conduction. Magnetic field effects. Ionization mechanisms. Collisional ionization. Line emissions. Metal abundances in the plasma. Models of plasma distribution. Cooling and heating mechanisms. Origin, astrophysical and cosmological significance of the IC plasma.
5) Synchrotron radiation: Charges in magnetic fields. Total synchrotron emitted power. Aberration, beaming, angular distribution of radiation. Synchrotron spectrum of a single pulse and its spectrum. Transition from cyclotron to synchrotron spectrum. Emission by a non-thermal electron distribution. Full treatment. Synchrotron self-absorption and spectral cutoffs. Synchrotron polarization. Limits of validity of our treatment. Electron energy losses and synchrotron spectral evolution. Radio-galaxies and their synchrotron emission. Energetics of the synchrotron emission by radio galaxies. Radio-Quiet Active Nuclei: Quasars and Seyfert galaxies.
6) Cosmic rays and acceleration mechanisms: Observational properties of cosmic rays. Fermi first-order and second order acceleration mechanisms.
7) Inverse Compton emission: Comptonization of radiation. Electron scattering. Quantum effects: Klein-Nishina cross-section. Compton scattering and inverse Compton. Emitted power from single scattering. Emission by many particles. Effects of multiple inverse Compton scatterings (Compton parameter, spectral distortions, Bose-Einstein distributions, thermal and kinetic Sunyaev–Zeldovich effect). X-ray emission of radio-quiet (and radio-loud) AGNs by thermal Comptonization. Compton reflection. AGN Unification Scheme and the X-ray Background. The BLAZAR phenomenon. Inverse Compton production of very high-energy photons: Synchrotron-Self Compton and External Compton emissions. Doppler boosting. Super-luminal motions.
8) Accretion power in Astrophysics: Compactness parameter. Eddington limit. Critical accretion regimes. Bondi and spherically-symmetric accretion. The analogue: accretion in binary systems. Plasma viscosity in disks. Thin accretion discs. Observational tests. Accretion in AGNs.
9) Propagation of radiation through plasmas: Propagation of electromagnetic waves through plasmas. Propagation along magnetic fields: Faraday rotation. Cherenkov radiation. Electron-Positron Pair Production (in thermal and non-thermal plasmas).
10) Cherenkov Astronomy: Detection technique. Atmospheric showers. Imaging the shower. Existing and future facilities. VHE extragalactic sky.
11) Cosmic photon-photon and particle-photon opacities: Extragalactic background radiations, background energy density. Photon opacity, applications to observations.
Planned learning activities and teaching methods: Lecturing and exercises in Italian.
Additional notes about suggested reading: Textbooks and lecture notes by the teacher. Lecture notes will be provided at the beginning of the course.
Textbooks (and optional supplementary readings)
  • Frank, J.; King, A. R., Accretion Power in Astrophysics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985. Cerca nel catalogo
  • Longair, Malcolm S., High Energy Astrophysics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011. Cerca nel catalogo
  • Sarazin, Craig L., X-ray Emission from Clusters of Galaxies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988. Cerca nel catalogo
  • Vietri, Mario, Astrofisica delle alte energie. Torino: Bollati Boringhieri, 2006. Cerca nel catalogo
  • Rybicki, George B.; Lightman, Alan P., Radiative Processes in Astrophysics. Weinheim: Wiley, 2004. Cerca nel catalogo

Innovative teaching methods: Teaching and learning strategies
  • Lecturing